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Czech Republic/Hungary/Poland: New NATO Members Respect Human Rights

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. State Department says the three prospective members of the NATO military alliance from Central and Eastern Europe demonstrated general respect for human rights last year.

However, the State Department did note some problems in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. The three former communist states are to become full members of the alliance next month and will take part in NATO's 50th anniversary summit in Washington in late April.

A good human rights record and secure civilian control of the military were, among other things, pre-conditions for alliance membership.

In its annual report on human-rights conditions around the world, released today, the State Department noted problems in the area of law enforcement in all three countries.

The U.S. said that, in the Czech Republic, discrimination against and sporadic violence directed at the Roma community by young men known as "skinheads" remained problems for the Prague government.

In Hungary, the U.S. said the government did address some specific issues of police abuse, but the report said the police continued to use excessive force against suspects. The report also said the police harassed Roma and other foreign nationals.

The problems in Poland were identified by the U.S. as poor prison conditions, a cumbersome legal process and poor administration of the judiciary. The report said the public, as a result, lacks confidence in its courts and judges.